Gym Buddy: Nathan McCallum

Gym Buddy: Nathan McCallum

In the first of an occasional series where I meet some of my gymspirations off the Internet, I chat to Aussie superstar Nathan McCallum.

As I take off my glasses and pause for a moment, staring out the window, a familiar saying forms in my mind: ‘never meet your heroes’. Well, in chatting with Nathan, I’d met a gym hero and it was a very positive experience. One where I left utterly inspired.

I got in touch with Nathan while he was in London to hook up for a little chat!

CHRIS
For anyone who doesn’t know who you are, how would you best describe yourself?

NATHAN
Oh, that’s a hard one! I’m a…go getter? I take it opportunities and say yes to things. I started as a fashion blogger, and worked my way into fitness and then I found my home there. But I still have that passion for fashion. 

CHRIS
When did you kind of migrate from being a fashion blogger into a fitness personality? 

NATHAN
I started to change around three or four years ago and then heavily for the past two and a half years. I joined a gym five years ago for the first time and then after a year or so people started asking me questions like, ‘how I was staying fit’ and ‘what I was doing fitness wise’, so I decided to start sharing some of that!

CHRIS
Now your profile has skyrocketed! How are you finding all that?

NATHAN
Well, I’ve been like doing the blogging in total for eight years. I’ve been around for a long time! I think the fitness space I’ve really sort of exploded into which is lucky but I already had an existing audience. So I kind of had the benefit of being able to transfer them from where they were previously to that come along for the ride and following my journey. Which is nice because it means people follow me for more reasons than just fitness tips or fashion. It’s a bit of personality too which is nice.

CHRIS
You’re like the insta fitness version of Madonna now, being just @nathan.

NATHAN
Yeah, I hadn’t thought of that! Or Cher!

CHRIS
Would you say your audience is diverse? Men, women? You have a big following in the LGBT community. 

NATHAN
Yeah! They’re the ones that are beyond just like wanting to look good. They’re loyal and supportive. They’re the ones that really listen and take advice. And have the most thankful for it. I think, sometimes is that “bro” mentality of being like, ‘I want to like you, but I don’t want to ask questions!” But the LGBT community is open to asking questions and engaging more, thanking, and being honest and responsive which is just amazing. I got so lucky there. A goal for me is to learn how to be a better ally in that community as well.

CHRIS
What would you say your fitness philosophy is?

NATHAN
I like to take a little bit of everything, I just don’t believe there is one right way to do anything. So I like to take different training modalities and different styles to mix them into one sort of style of training just to keep things interesting. I don’t want to just be a bodybuilder. I want to be a CrossFitter. I don’t want to be a runner. I want a bit of everything. I love almost every element of fitness. Why just pick one. I do my programmes with elements of power lifting, strongman, callisthenics, bodybuilding, high intensity interval training in the one session. So it has elements of all the things that compliment each other, to get the best workout possible to get the results you want. Also keep it fun!

CHRIS
How do you maintain that while you’re travelling?

NATHAN
I use a bodyweight travel programme, which is, you know, exercise with no equipment needed! But I love training in a gym so I’m actually doing this TV series on the best places around the world to train, eat and adventure while in a different city. I’d be on Google Maps and be like, ‘any good gyms near me?’ And I realised there’s no resource for that! Unless there is someone you trust to tell you ‘this is a good gym’ so I’m going to try and be that person!

CHRIS
You have your own Coaching business as well?

NATHAN
Yeah! Milestone Strength is me and my best friend of 28 years. He’s the smartest man I’ve ever met. It was his personal training business and as things started getting bigger for me in the fitness space, I was giving him shout outs being like t’his my personal trainer!’ Then as his profile started growing he sat down with me and said, ‘let’s just do this together.’ We took Milestone online and started selling programmes to an international audience. And we’re now in 62 countries which is incredible. We’ve been really blessed for people to discover us and take a chance on us. The US is probably the country that purchases our products the most, with the UK being around 4th or 5th.

CHRIS
If one of your clients says ‘Nathan, I want to look like you’ what’s your response?

NATHAN
People can go towards my style of training but everyone’s a different body shape and that’s a hard thing. My thing is don’t look at someone else, but be the best version of yourself. You can have aspirations. Like, for me, I’m never gonna look like Arnold Schwarzenegger because I’m 5ft 9-

CHRIS
-That’s a pretty big heel on your boot.

NATHAN
-Okay, just under 5ft 9 then! But I’m a skinny kid, naturally, and my body tries to go back to that so it’s also part of the journey, learning about your own body, learning how it works, and constantly improving. Training should be about trying to be that 1% better every day and to be a better version of yourself. It’s not just to look good, but to also feel good. You have those endorphins, start trying to kick in and you feel good mentally. 

CHRIS
What would your advice be to people who are really struggling against that mindset? 

NATHAN
I’d say finding people to train with is a really good thing. A workout buddy. Someone who has the same passion as you. Also I’d say it’s about setting goals as those are invaluable. If you have something to work towards, its more achievable. Because if you’re chasing a goal, you have that consistently, so it becomes the easiest thing once you’ve built those habits. Gym Shark do this amazing thing called the 66 challenge, where they say it takes 66 days to form a habit. So do something religiously for 66 days, every day, get up and do it. It doesn’t have to be training it can be I want to have three glass of water every day, I want to be better hydrated. But if you do that every day for 66 days you can form a habit and enjoy it.

CHRIS
Obviously social media is such a powerful tool and something that has crafted your business. Is there pressure on you to always look good?

NATHAN
Good question. That’s probably the hardest thing being a ‘fitness influencer’ and I use the term loosely. For a while I had a really negative connotation of being happy on my game at all times ONLY when I have a six pack. I thought that was the only time I was going to sell things. Three weeks ago did a mini bulk, which is the first time I’ve done so in two years. In order to grow and improve myself, I had to soften up and lose the six pack and I found the best way of doing this was to just be honest and accountable by telling people this is what I’m doing. So those those gonna get that I knew that but I was like, it’s a hard thing. 

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Heading into the weekend like…

A post shared by isnathan (@nathan) on

CHRIS
What is your calorie intake when you are bulking?

NATHAN
4500 calories a day! My base metabolic rate if I need to stay asleep and just sleep all night probably ok on 2100 calories. And that’s a lot of calories to consume just to exist! In order for you to really grow, you have to eat over that. So I normally eat about 3500. I find it easier to eat a few big meals at the start of the day then snack consistently.

CHRIS
And with social media a degree of body dysmorphia can crop up, sometimes a path down to steroids for a quicker fix, have you encountered that before?

NATHAN
Yeah, it’s a hard one and I’m actually very naive to that subject. I’m 100% natural and always have been. But I also understand why it’s appealing. I understand people whose goals are more of an aesthetic thing to put on size. Hopefully what I’m doing, is educating people on the way to go. If you’ve done everything else, if you want to achieve that, or step on stage to compete as a Bodybuilder then speak to someone who knows more than me, because I can’t possibly advise on that. At the end of the day, I want to educate people to be the healthiest, best version of themselves. I don’t think substances like steroids is the way to do it. It’s the same with supplements, I’m sponsored by an amazing company, but I do try and educate with food because it is the most important thing. If you’re not eating right then you’re not doing it right. You’re not going to get the benefits from having those extra supplements on top. It’s a big misleading side in the fitness industry, sometimes you see people be like, ‘I’m on this protein shake and it’s also a pre workout.’ Don’t get me started on Fat Burners! I would never tell someone to touch them, because those just don’t work.

CHRIS
Do you find it hard in social situations in terms of alcohol and adding empty calories?

NATHAN
I don’t drink.

CHRIS
But, you’re Australian?!

NATHAN
Haha! One of the odd ones, yeah. I’ve had a couple of beers once but that’s about it. I don’t think people shouldn’t drink. It’s just not for me. Sure, it makes it hard when you a lifestyle or career that has this social occasions when you’re trying to cut down but you’re drinking alcohol. You’re having empty calories, and it’s not really benefiting you. You’re just taking away from the food that you can be eating. So that makes it hard for people who are trying to ‘diet down’. 

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Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.

A post shared by isnathan (@nathan) on

CHRIS
I need you ask you about ‘Team Tucked’…so what is that all about?!

NATHAN
Haha! As we mentioned, I’m not the tallest guy and like just under 5ft 9 and a lot of the shirts I had from GymShark a few years ago were just really long on me and I felt like I was wearing a dress. I’ve got big legs too, so it’s just like these big legs to get the bottom of the dress! So I started tucking in my singlets when I was training and I had that really old school aesthetic so which I was like, ‘oh, I quite like this!’. I turned up to the GymShark Expo in Sydney and was training with Steve Cook who looked at me and said ‘I love that, I’m gonna do it’ and then someone else put the hashtag up on an Instagram post and then it just kind of caught on. It actually makes you feel a look a bit bigger as it tucks the waist in! 

CHRIS
So what’s next on the horizon for you?

NATHAN
I’ll be trying to maintain regular Instagram and regular YouTube content! I try to post once a week on YouTube, minimum but I will be focusing on my travel series, Fit For Adventure, which is quite big as 12 episodes. So this whole week in London, we’re filming the next two episodes. And then home for two weeks to film in Sydney, then New Zealand so a lot of travel coming up. I’m in America for three weeks in September. It’s just me my editor Tristan. It’s really fun. I’m so lucky to to do it.

You can check out Nathan’s YouTube channel here!